Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Atlanta, Georgia (July 25, 2013)

Story by Louise Greer (MDF Secretary)

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Scottish Rite Hospital

As the date drew closer, the anticipation grew. The day before the Dream Boxes were to be delivered there was much to be done. The boxes had to be filled by age range and toys carefully chosen for each group. Each box had to be handled with care and filled with love. The Dream Boxes are filled and a portion is set aside for a special delivery that takes place right after the main hospital delivery. All boxes are lined up and ready for the trip into Atlanta.

I am up and just like anything special in one's life we are all running around trying to get ready to be on the road on time. I live outside of Atlanta and the trip will take approximately 50 minutes. I decided to bring my own family on this delivery as it was a momentous occasion and they have lived with me and Michael's Dream Foundation since the beginning. The grandchildren are not quite sure what is going to take place but understand that they will be meeting The MDF Children's Ambassador, Zeke Allen. They have been drawing pictures for Zeke and writing his name for the last two weeks.

Traffic is at a standstill and phone calls are immediately taking place in anticipation of running late. Not today, how could this happen?  Please not today. As nothing can stop us, we start moving again and surprisingly make it on time!

 

I see a woman with a small boy standing outside the hospital, could this be Zeke? Yes! We pulled up to the valet area and I quickly explained that we are delivering Michael's Dream Boxes and have permission to park there, “No problem, go right ahead.” Zeke’s little face is red from happiness and excitement as the boxes are unloaded from the car. I am sure he is not quite sure who we are but he sees the large display of balloons and already knows this is going to be fun. We take several pictures outside of the hospital while Zeke changes into his custom MDF Ambassador T shirt.

As we were outside we started to gather an audience of onlookers who followed us into the building. Even cars driving by noticed all the red boxes and balloons and wondered what all the hoopla was about. I notified security and explained who we were to the information desk, then asked them to let the hospital volunteer coordinator know we had arrived. Melanie Turner introduced herself to me and then to Zeke, explaining to me that she has been looking forward to this day and just loved our foundation. Melanie spent time getting to know Zeke while he excitedly showed her the contents of his very own Dream Box.

As I prepared the boxes for presentation to the hospital I got to talk to other parents visiting their children and explained to them that these boxes represented love and a smile, and were intended to encourage wellness in their child, as Michael would have wanted it. They were so impressed with the idea of how we are continuing Michael’s legacy, and were thrilled that their child would receive their very own Dream Box. I think this was the best part of my day; listening to all of the admiration for Michael and hearing their excitement that they could be part of what we were doing. 

As Zeke officially presented the boxes to the hospital we had some applause and you could feel the love. He was presented with an Olympic Spirit medal and certificate from the hospital for his part in the Michael's Dream Box Delivery and for giving back to the hospital that has treated and cared for him on so many occasions.

I so badly wanted to visit with the children that the Dream Boxes were to be given to in the hospital, but because of Hippa laws it is forbidden however, I was assured that each child would receive their box from the volunteer staff after it had been medically sterilized. We all said our goodbyes and prepared to make our second delivery that day.

Ronald McDonald House

As we pulled up to the next delivery location I remember thinking to myself how nice it is to have such a nice place to stay like the RMH; a place for families to stay while their child is in hospital. As we made our way up to the entrance a young woman came outside and greeted us, explaining that they also had been anticipating our arrival. What a wonderful reception!

We were taken into the main living room where we met with Darren Adkins, the Resident Manager. He exhibited having a truly wonderful way with children as he chatted with my grandkids and Zeke. We were then told that the resident children were in therapy for the day but we might be able to meet some of the parents that were there waiting. Darren gave us a tour of the kitchen and play areas and luckily we were able to meet with several parents and one of the children staying there.

The house is so inviting and a great place for a child to feel better and just be a kid. Looking at the décor and the play areas you can see how hard it was to get my own family away from there! As goodbyes were exchanged it left us with the feeling that we wished we could do more. There were tears on my own daughter’s face as she picked up a list of things needed for the Ronald McDonald House from the front counter.

As we were leaving my daughter made sure one red heart balloon was let go in the air for Michael.

Since the delivery we have received communication from the hospital and The Ronald McDonald House letting us know how the children were very excited to get such wonderful gifts from Michael. The Ever After books that were donated by Brenda Jenkyns and illustrated by Kathy Garren were an absolute hit. They generously donated enough so every child's would receive one.

We did it! We delivered Michael's Dream Boxes to Georgia. On to the next!

Photo Credits: Nicola Wilburn; Sadie Ford Photography (time and photos donated to MDF)

 Visit our Facebook page for the full album of photos from this day!